Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Getting back in shape

Ok, let’s start with a little piece of advertisement: I am now allowed to work in the U.S and am therefore looking for a job in the Seattle area. My perfect kind of company would be a small start-up working on an interesting project, but I am open to pretty much anything. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any opportunity for a young manager that loves coding, making opinionated software, playing with nerf guns and that has a funny French accent ;).

Looking for a job is an excellent way to get to know what kind of technology is used on the market, and to my surprise, in Seattle, one technology is very popular: Ruby on Rails. It’s funny because I don’t think it is widely used in France, so I was never very interested in it. I thought “Pretty much another scripting language and another MVC framework” and archived the data in a corner of my head.

When I saw the sheer number of positions where you have to be competent in RoR, I had to revise my judgement, and decided to test the framework. At the same time an idea for a little website popped in my head, so that was the perfect project to get back in shape.

One objective: finalizing my little project (codename “Powerade”, don’t sue, I have no money), using as much unknown technologies as I can: Ruby instead of Perl, Subversion instead of CVS... Ok I’m keeping MySQL and Apache.

So a few days ago I installed an Ubuntu VM, set it up with all the necessary software, and got to work. By the way, if you know a good lightweight Ruby IDE with a vi plugin, I’m interested, as Eclipse seems a bit too much for my VM.

And getting back in shape it is!

After 3 months of forced inactivity, where I didn't code because I was to busy discovering Seattle, it is kind of funny to see how quickly things that where a reflex fade from memory, and at the same time how some things are imprinted in my fingers. For example using svn instead of cvs is a pain since when I do any revision control operation I just type cvs something without even thinking about it, but at the same time, I completely forgot the most common cvs options and had to browse quickly through the manual to do the most basic operations. Using the CVS plugin for Eclipse the last year probably didn’t help by the way...

I kind of like Ruby on Rails.

I am not necessarily a Ruby fan yet, but I can see myself becoming one. I had a good laugh when I discovered that you can write things like “dog.isHungry?”, but I somehow miss Perl. Maybe it’s just a matter of fluency.

On the other hand, I am amazed by Rails.

In 5 minutes of toying with it, I had a web page enabling me to create a user and edit it, and this is incredible.

I still have to use it more to do a comparison with another framework such as Cocoon, but I am already seeing why Rails is so popular.

It enforces a proven project structure that is very clean. A framework like Cocoon doesn't and it's very easy to do messy thing. It automates tedious tasks like creating databases schema, updating them, creating test cases and test data, and test database. It has it's own server embedded which is nice because you can work on your project pretty much anywhere without having to go through tons of configuration beforehand. The list goes on and on.

We’ll see if this good impression persists after a prolonged use, but I already convinced ,).


Doug said...

Re: lightweight IDE with a vi plugin. I'd flip that around and suggest vim with good rails plugin. The gvim package in ubuntu has pretty good ruby support out of the box and the rails vim plugin is fantastic! http://rails.vim.tpope.net/

Loïc said...

That is pretty much what I went for... It turns out that it was the vi plugin that was crashing my Eclipse, and since I hate coding without vi, i just dumped Eclipse and voilà.

The rails plugin seems awesome, I'm installing it right away :).

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